Released: 2008, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
When first presented with the promo for Devian’s NINEWINGED SERPENT, I wasn’t all that enthused until my memory was jogged that this was the new band featuring Legion and Emil Dragutinovic, former vocalist and drummer of Swedish death metal assassins, Marduk. Hearing what those two would do away from the hyperspeed blasphemy of Marduk piqued my curiosity but what was in store was even better than expected. Essentially blackened thrash with a melodic death twist, NINEWINGED SERPENT puts Devian in the running for best new band of 2008 and the album may even hold on to a spot for the list of favorite albums, as well. Legion’s nasty snarl and throaty screams are out in full force here, while the riffing of Joinus and Tomas Nilsson bears a surprising number of melodic hooks that is very different from the Marduk sound. Tossing Fredrik Nordstrom (Dimmu Borgir, Arch Enemy) into the fold to handle the mix has really given this album a sharp edge, too. Add in some pretty cool cover art and NINEWINGED SERPENT becomes the first “must-have” CD of 2008.
The opening instrumental is a dirge-like march that draws the listener near only to get throttled by the jangly riffing on “Dressed In Blood,” a thrashing maniac of a song that utilizes Legion’s acidic vocals to their fullest. “Heresy” and “Scarred” lock into a groovy tempo and the guitar hooks are irresistible and not in a cornball way, either. They are heavy and fast but also possess enough melody to sink into memory long after hitting the stop button. While the bullhorn vocals could have been left as an idea, Dragutinovic shows off some excellent drum fills on “Fatalist.” Later, unleashing some scorching double bass on “Burning Daylight” finds that his time in Marduk sorely undervalued his skills as a well-rounded metal drummer. That song also features some of the best guitarwork on the album as the shredded solo and mid-tempo riffing lays everything out clearly rather than a go-for-broke firestorm. The title track epitomizes unbridled religious evil and you can almost see the grin spread across Legion’s face as he delivers the chorus (“I fucked your faith as a ninewinged serpent”). “Jackal” is on the fence whether it wants to be a searing mass of thrash metal intensity or a slow-boiling melodic death inferno. Whatever it is, the song is one of the best on the CD and demonstrates that Devian is here to shoot first and ask questions later.
Many people following the post-Marduk career of Legion and Dragutinovic may remember hearing early buzz of the band known as Rebel Angels (featuring former Marduk bassist, B. War) and Elizium. Devian is the final product and the guys have clearly gone out of their way to show they are not resting on their laurels on NINEWINGED SERPENT. This album is dark, evil and heavy—attributes of their time in Marduk—but also contains enough accessibility to reel in people across the metal spectrum. The instrumentation is sharp and clear with enough technical flair mixed in with the melodies to rise above the masses. Fans of Marduk will undoubtedly check this out—as I did—just on curiosity alone but there is so much to offer here that Devian really is a band to take notice of regardless of where your metal-o-meter points.
KILLER KUTS: “Dressed In Blood,” “Heresy,” “Scarred,” “Fatalist,” “Ninewinged Serpent,” Burning Daylight,” “Jackal”